Advice Centre Safety Is Laser Lipolysis Safe?

Is Laser Lipolysis Safe?

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Are there any risks or side effects to having laser lipolysis?

There are two kinds of laser lipolysis: minimally invasive and non-invasive.

The minimally invasive procedure is similar to traditional liposuction in that you’re given anaesthetic (for laser lipolysis, it’s local rather than general anaesthetic), an incision is made in your skin and a special tube is inserted to suck out the fat that the laser has melted. Non-invasive laser lipolysis (such as SculpSure) doesn’t involve any incisions or suction. Instead, lasers are transmitted through the skin, destroying the fat cells underneath. The cells degrade naturally inside the body.

Like liposuction, or any other type of cosmetic surgery, the minimally invasive procedure carries some risks and side effects:

Bruising and swelling

The part of your body you’ve had treated might be swollen and bruised afterward, and you’ll probably be given a compression garment to wear which reduces the swelling and bruising and speeds up the healing process. The swelling should subside within five to 10 days, but you may be bruised and tender for up to four weeks.

Sensation or numbness in the skin

Laser lipolysis melts your fat cells and tightens your skin. This tightening can sometimes cause feelings of numbness or sensitivity as your skin becomes more firm and toned.

Irregular body shape

It takes your body three to six months to naturally absorb melted fat to a point where you can see the effects. If you have the minimally invasive procedure (where the fat is sucked out), the results will be more obvious and immediate, and you’ll probably notice a difference one week after surgery. However, sometimes the contours of your skin can appear irregular or misshapen, and further surgery may be needed to correct them.

Dimpled skin and cellulite

Sometimes the act of removing fat can dimple the skin or increase the appearance of cellulite.


A skilled surgeon is unlikely to inflict burns, and the newer medical devices used to carry out the procedure measure the temperature of your skin to prevent it from overheating and burning. However, if you do suffer a burn, there are risks of infection and scarring.

Complications from anaesthetic

When undergoing laser lipolysis, you’re given a local anaesthetic to numb the skin. Some people can have allergic reactions to the anaesthetic or require a more powerful dose, and so it’s important to discuss the risks with your doctor.

Can laser lipolysis cause infection?

All surgical procedures carry some risk of infection, but with laser lipolysis the risk is extremely low. There’s a very small chance it could happen if the wound doesn’t heal properly, but in any case you’ll be given antibiotics to prevent any infection from developing.

There’s an increased risk of infection if you have diabetes.

Will the laser harm my liver?

The laser itself cannot damage your liver or any of your internal organs.

I’m pregnant. Can I have laser lipolysis?

Medical professionals will recommend you wait until at least eight weeks after the birth. Not only is your skin more stretched than normal, the local anaesthetic you’re given for the procedure can get into your bloodstream and harm the baby’s growth. The results are also unpredictable due to hormonal changes in your body.

With non-invasive procedures such as SculpSure, the laser only targets upper layers of fat and doesn’t penetrate the reproductive system, meaning it won’t affect pregnancy later in life.

Is laser lipolysis safe for people with diabetes?

Doctors often avoid doing cosmetic surgery on people with diabetes, as the condition causes complications with healing wounds and the forming of new collagen (the protein in muscles, skin, tendons and so on that gives those tissues their strength). Also, because people with diabetes have weaker immune systems than people without, they’re more likely to get an infection.

That said, laser lipolysis is safe for people with diabetes, providing that:

  • their blood sugar is kept under strict control
  • they undergo the surgery knowing that the results may not be as effective as seen on someone without diabetes.

SculpSure is safe for some people with diabetes and it can help them lose fat, though only if they’re a suitable candidate for the procedure (i.e. they’re otherwise healthy, with a body mass index of 30 or under).

Does laser lipolysis hurt?

With minimally invasive laser lipolysis, you’ll be given a local anaesthetic and, during the procedure, feel nothing other than a bit of pressure or heat on your skin. You’ll likely have some pain for three to four days afterward, and swelling and bruising for up to four weeks.

During a non-invasive procedure like SculpSure, you’ll feel only alternating warm and cool sensations as the laser begins to destroy your fat cells. There is very little pain once you’ve had the treatment, and no downtime.

I have high blood pressure. Is laser lipolysis safe for me?

Yes, as long as your blood pressure is under control and you aren’t suffering symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. The surgeon and their medical team will monitor your blood pressure throughout the treatment.

With SculpSure, there’s no risk to patients with high blood pressure.

Can laser lipolysis cause cancer?

There are no studies to show that any type of liposuction or laser lipolysis could cause cancer.

Who is laser lipolysis most suitable for?

Laser lipolysis is designed to contour and shape the body rather than treat weight loss. As a result, it’s aimed more at people who are at, or near, their healthy body weight and who want to remove areas of fat they’ve been unable to shed through diet or exercise.

Doctors don’t tend to recommend the procedure for people who have heart disease, problems with blood flow, or a weak immune system. You must also be over the age of 18.

Can I continue to lose weight after undergoing laser lipolysis?

Yes. It’s very important that you not only get back into a routine of exercise but maintain a healthy diet and drink lots of water. The water will help flush out any fat cells still in your body. Avoiding fatty foods means you won’t be putting fats back into the cells that have just been emptied.

Most people who have the procedure go back to their normal activities after a couple of days. You should be able to do mild exercise (e.g. walking, exercise bike, elliptical trainer, weight training for arms and legs) after a few days, but avoid doing anything more strenuous for at least two weeks after treatment.

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